Nicklas Bendtner, Carlos Vela and 16-year-old Jack Wilshere were all on target.Lehmann an old man of 38 by comparision was brilliant in a reflex save that denied Theo Walcott from point-blank range after he was set up by van Persie.
July 2008 Archives
Mirror,mirror on the wall
Who are the fattest footballers of them all?
Here's what the mirror said : Andy Reid,Mark Bosnich,John Hartson,Kevin Pressman,Ronaldo,Razor Ruddock,Neil Shipperley,Rooney,Maradona and Neville Southall
In its 104 year existence, FIFA has had 8 presidents. The last two, Joao Havelange and Sepp Blatter have ruled for 34 years. Yes, since the year Richard Nixon resigned. FIFA now has the biggest conglomeration of countries, bigger than the IOC or the UN.
It is also highly corporatized as well as despotic and capricious. And it seems to create its own reality. Its present president in delusions of grandeur, proclaims players live in modern slavery. When such incoherent statements are made, it is high time that FIFA consider imposing term limits to the presidency.
Andrew Jennings explains. Many in the 24 member executive council responsible for awarding the World Cup have been tainted by kickbacks and illegal ticket sales. Some were courted by England in their unsuccessful 2006 bid, giving the FA a bit of a black eye when the ISL investigations began.
The FA is in a tight spot because it is bidding for the 2018 World Cup and wants to do it without the suggestion of impropriety. But Sepp Blatter has transformed the FIFA into a giant pork barrel project where votes can be bought to award the World Cup. It's the usual order of business. The danger is that if the FA runs a clean as a whistle campaign, then it essentially takes it out of the running.
Blatter told Barcelona ..."He'll be back"
The FIFA ruling on Wednesday cleared the way for Argentina star Lionel Messi to represent his country at the Beijing Olympics.Story here....
Not against each other.Arsenal scored 10 goals against Burgenland in a pre season friendly which come to think of it was not a very friendly thing to do.Nicklas Bendtner scored four goals and Carlos Vela got a hat-trick.Wilshere and Walcott completed the carnage.
Chelsea on the other hand rounded off their Asian Tour with a 2 - 0 win over a Malaysian Team.
Hmmmm. Eighteen years since they won their last title. Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler, Emile Heskey, Milan Baros, Luis Garcia, Peter Crouch, have come and gone. Both Fowler and Owen are in the Premiership top 10 goalscorers list.
Admittedly, Keane brings some serious firepower, getting many goals from deflections and spills. He has a knack of being at the right spot and the right time. But he is also very streaky going through goal scoring droughts, injury prone, and if he has to think too much usually flubs it.
It would be useful when Keano gets streaky that he scores goals that win Liverpool matches which they really need to win rather than proving to be a statistical supplement to Torres. Having Torres last season added +10 goals to their 2006 - 2007 season of 57 goals which actually resulted in them moving down one spot to fourth. Liverpool also drew 13 matches that seriously slowed them down. So a quality striker like Torres is not going to do it by himself.
The other issue will be where does he play in the 4-2-3-1 scheme that Rafa employs? Well, Rafa seems to think that Keane can be quite versatile. "We can play 4-4-2 with Keane and Torres or someone, or 4-2-3-1 and Keane can play on the right or on the left or as a second striker. It won't be a problem."
Keano can't play on the left or right, he plays pretty much straight down the pipe, hanging off the last defender. So it will have to be behind Torres.
Robbie Keane goal compilation >>
Dileep Premachandran points out that cricket is not the only sport that captures the imagination of the Indian public. In a phenomenon that is an inextricable part of the rise of the Indian middle class, soccer the global game, has caught on, creating a fanbase that is probably as knowledgeable and argumentative as any.
Indians sport Arsenal jerseys and plunge into animated discussions on whether Cristiano Ronaldo will leave Man Utd. Millions stayed up well past midnight to watch the recent Euro Cup as ESPN/ Setanta telecast them live. In this globalized world, Indians co-opt Brazil as their national team and follow them just as passionately. If Richard Scudamore had to play one of his widely panned 39th Premiership game in India, there would be riots on the streets of Kolkata to get tickets. He would also earn enough money through advertising and merchandising through that single match to pay a nice parachute payment to a relegated club.
As much this reveals the hold of soccer in contemporary India, it also says much that the nascent passion that animates Indians is directed at soccer played elsewhere. Unlike cricket which continues to make its pantheon of heroes an indigenous one, from Vinoo Mankad to Mahender Singh Dhoni, the Indian soccer fan has chosen to live vicariously, finding heroes overseas. This is in part to the sporadic nature of any meaningful success in the international arena as well as the moribund nature of our national Premier league which attracts hundreds of thousands in metros but few audiences beyond the big centers. Soccer heroes have been few and hard to come by and enjoy nowhere as near the adulation of the cricket superstars.
This was not always the case and an earlier generation of Indians remember the Indian teams of the 40s, 50s, and 60s that threw up stalwarts like Sailen Manna, Chuni Goswami, Peter Thangaraj, PK Banerjee, Jarnail Singh, Sawoo Mewalal, Altaf Ahmad, and Neville D'Souza. India first garnered attention in the 1948 London Olympics as the barefoot team dazzled the opposition. They went onto win (with shoes) the 1951 and 1962 Asian Games and entered the semi-finals of the subsequent two Games. In the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, Neville De Souza's hat trick earned them a famous 4-2 victory over Australia as they came in fourth. India also finished runners up in the 1964 Asia Cup losing to S.Korea. Four of their players made the All Asian Stars XI in the mid 1960s. In those days, there was talk of Goswami moving to Tottenham Hotspurs.
It is not a stretch to say that our trajectory in that era was similar to Iran or S.Korea but who have since then left India in the dust with a number of Olympic and World Cup appearances with S.Korea finishing third in the 2002 World Cup. In fact, we have steadily slid from a FIFA ranking of 94 in 1996 to 153 today. Despite the AIFF president's prescient prognostications, India did not qualify for the 2010 World Cup.
"So we have taken up the national youth development programme as priority for the last eight years. I'm very confident that we have launched a mission that India must appear in 2010."
It comes as no surprise that Priya Ranjan Das Munshi is also India's union minister of propaganda. It should also come as no surprise since taking over the AIFF fourteen years ago, under Das Munshi's helmsmanship India has failed to qualify for either the Asia Cup, Olympics, World Cup, or do anything of note in the Asian Games. Even our more regional aspirations have looked far from reassured. The 80s onwards, we had a number of talented players but it has not translated into any significant success. Atanu Bhattacharya, Prasanta Banerjee, IV Vijayan, Krisanu Dey, and Bhaichung Bhutia impressed on an individual level, without India making any impact internationally. The trend seemingly continues with promising youngsters like Steven Dias, Climax Lawrence, and Sunil Chetri under Bob Houghton, giving of fine performances even as a team our chances fade away.
Meanwhile, S.Korea has an equally passionate fanbase that follows Premiership soccer but they follow it through the prism of their own representation, a quartet of players led by Park Ji Sung of Man Utd. They in other words, have a horse in the race, and their success in soccer is a result of a confluence of different factors, such as nationalistic pride, unified vision, and tactical advances. This localized input into a global phenomenon energizes their own national league. Other young players are inspired to follow Sung's footsteps, raising S.Korea's standards. It is a flesh and blood relationship full of realizable outcomes, not based on an expedient longing to be connected to a larger world. The adulation that stunned Oliver Kahn in his India trip therefore has a comic book quality to it. Its strange but India that has long prided itself in its self sufficiency and routinely uses its clout in the cricketing world as a reminder that the colonial days are over, seems to have no problems handing the keys to the global game. It may give us instant access and a series of 'but soccer is so popular' articles but one would like it better if India and Indians stepped back and became more serious about creating their own heroes. Next time you put on a Ronaldo jersey think about how Climax! looks better.
Think Rovers and the adjectives that flow are tough, uncompromising, physical, ugly, and effective. Part of the rorschach was a unyielding defense whose fail safe option at the back was Brad Friedel. I am sure that there are thousands of fans who feel a bit choked up at Friedel's departure for Villa which opened up once Paul Robinson was signed up by Paul Ince.
Peter Garrett like, Friedel's 6' 4" frame was an unshakeable and umistakable visage at Rovers for the last 8 seasons. I seriously think that Friedel counts for 80% of the few warm fuzzies left in the UK for the USA in these anti Bush days. See Pew polls >>
During his time and because of him in large part, Rovers made the transition to the Premiership in his 2001 inaugural season. The men from the North West gleefully stuck it to clubs taking themselves too seriously even as they cemented their place in the Premiership. Friedel's lightning reflexes, penalty saving instincts, and leadership at the back became a trademark.
It all counted for some unforgettable moments for Rovers fans. As an Arsenal fan, I remember the FA Cup fifth round match against us last year as Friedel kept the Gunners at bay with a wondrous double save. To my chagrin, the match ended in a draw with Rovers taking it to the next leg. This year, April 19th, 2008, he kept swatting aside Man Utd's attack as they circled around goal like sharks tasting blood and it took a 88th minute Tevez strike to breach the citadel. Thanks to that equalizing goal, Man U kept a crucial 3 point lead over Chelsea. Later, a relieved Carlos Queiroz praised Friedel's performance.
And who can forget his match against Spurs when they won the 2002 League Cup final, their first in 72 years. Friedel was at his best. This is what Paul Doyle had to say in his six great goal keeping displays of recent years.
"You could say this was the match in which Brad Friedel repaid his transfer fee ... if it weren't for the crazy fact that he came from Liverpol for free. Graeme Souness, then, at least made one inspired signing in his long and ludicrous managerial career."
And in another memorable moment, he scored his only goal against against Charlton in 2004, a dextrous piece of opportunism that would have made Gary Lineker proud.
I have never seen a drop off in Friedel's intensity and his willingness to give it his all in the years that he has played for Rovers. 287 matches started, most club appearances in the Premiership with 172 matches, a selection to the 2002-03 Premiership all team for keeping 15 clean sheets and leading them to a 6th place finish, good for an UEFA spot.
Friedel's brilliant goal against the Addicks >>
Friedel two times Arsenal >>
Fare thee well at Villa but ye shall be remembered fondly at Rovers.
Okay it was against Singapore - but a goal is a goal.And he is captain of the Brazil Olympic side so a few goals here and there in these practice games might rekindle that old spark.AC Milan is happy.Their new signing is shining already...!
And Ronaldinho fans are happy.And the man himself flashed the famous bucktoothed grin that launched a thousand goals so we can presume he is happy too.And he's looking thinner and fitter - which is good news for the game.
The other two goals in the game came from Diego and Jo.
Freddy Adu, June 2006 >>
"It's still open, you never know," he said. "The way Ghana is playing right now [at the World Cup finals], they're a good, good team."
"Because you never know, maybe I might not get a chance to play for the US national team."
Freddy Adu, June 2008 >>
Adu said he very much enjoys starting, especially for the U.S. national team. “It really does help my confidence when the coach really believes in you to start the game off,” said Adu after a training session for the Argentina game. “It means a lot to me.”
Adu must have been channeling Steve Nowak with whom he had a testy relationship at DC United. Nowak believed Adu had a lot of growing up to do and gave Adu very few starting opportunities as a disciplinary measure. Adu in turn believes that his marginalization at DC led to his non-inclusion in the 2006 World Cup.
Playing for the MLS was never going to be enough. Adu's RSL stint was a disappointment and it appeared to reinforce the perception that he had little motivation to stay on in the MLS. This was contrary to his attention grabbing performances in the U-20 World Cup last summer. There was a lot of grumbling that he had saved his best to attract the European heavy hitters.
Adu might be perceived wrongly or rightly so, as self serving in his career. He chose to market himself internationally which led him to Benfica and now to Monaco. However, this is not in itself a bad thing if in the long run it improves your game. And it appears to have paid off.
He looked good in the Argentina friendly. Not to put too fine a point on this but it might have had to do with sitting out in Benfica for huge parts of the season. A sign that Adu might be ready to move on to a more mature and constructive phase in his soccer playing career, motivated less by personal ambition than making the best of the starting opportunities that have come his way.
Messi scores 3 out of Barcelona's 5 goals in their 5 -1 drubbing of Dundee United.They really ought to let him go to the Olympics.
The senior team can find some consolation in this.The U 19's beat Italy 3 -1 and won the championships for the first time since 1992.That rounds up the euro championships for now - unless they are planning to have a tournament for even younger players.The technical observers for the games - Zdeněk Sivek of the Czech Republic and Northern Ireland's Roy Millar - have gathered some data and you can read that here if interested.
Things like..."Everyone now plays with a back four; gone are the days when you had three at the back or man-marking and the back four gives you more solutions whether the opposition play with one or two strikers," he said. "Having two screening midfielders who don't go beyond the ball allows the full-backs to attack wide yet still leaves you secure at the back. Most sides will now play with a lone striker, which is very effective, and usually three interchangeable players behind him. We've seen the importance of wingers coming back into the game in that position, so it's been very interesting."
The Olympic tournament is by definition an under-23 event but each team can field three over-age players, whom the clubs are not required to release.Blatter has given the hukum to all clubs to release all under 23 players or else.....
Actual words used...
"The release of players below the age of 23 has always been mandatory for all clubs.The same principle shall apply for Beijing 2008."The latest twist in the club vs country conundrum
Dean Ashton scored first for the West Ham. Gomez neutralised that advantage even as the goal celebrations were going on. Blanco gave the All-Stars the lead a minute before half-time and West Ham levelled through a deflected shot from Ashton’ The All-Stars took the game when De Rosario converted a penalty into a goal that careened in off the cross bar.Becks made himself useful throughout the proceedings though not getting in among the goals himself.
Michael Keane of St Patrick's Athletic has been sacked for tucking in too much into the starchy foods.As a teenager, Keane had been tipped for big things after breaking into the first team at Preston North End.He took the tip too literally and went ahead and became bigger and now finds himself too large altogether.
His football skills diminished and his resemblance to a football increased.
Keane received a letter from his club earlier this year instructing him to lose weight and was given a target to aim towards. Failing to meet that goal was the reason offered for his dismissal. In his defence, the player will argue that he hasn't missed a training session during his time with the club. Should the Saints survive any appeal decision by Keane then it could prove to be a landmark case. The PFAI fear that other clubs would use it as a reference point for removing players from their wage bill.
Richard Sukuta-Pasu struck a 119th minute goal to knock out the Czech Republic In the other semifinal a second-half goal from substitute Fernando Forestieri took Italy past Hungary.Stories here and here..
The video of the Germany - Czech game is here .The other one cannot be located at this point in time.
The U.S. Women’s National Team defeated Brazil 1 - 0 in an exhibition match but paid a pretty high price for the victory.Abby Wambach broke her leg in a 31st minute collision with Brazilian defender Andreia Rosa. The two players went hard into a tackle and the Brazilian caught Wambach with a full swing flush in the middle of her leg.
Germany,Hungary,Italy and the Czech Republic have entered the semis of the competition.
Italy won a 7 goal thriller against the Czech Republic despite twice surrendering the advantage.England finally found their scoring touch to defeat Greece 3-0 but it was too little too late.They crashed out and so did the defending champs Spain.
All the latest here..
Ahmed Hassan scoring the winning goal in his debut game. Al-Ahly beat bitter rivals Zamalek 2-1 .Report....
A week ago in the UNSC, South Africa voted against sanctions for Zimbabwe's leaders. The resolution was defeated with the help of China and Russia. The BBC described SA as a Zimbabwe ally pleased with the outcome. The result angered the US and England, the prime movers behind the resolution. In the balance was the marginalization of the Mugabe government which has used violence and intimidation resulting in the deaths of many opposition supporters to remain in power.
A more low key but equally important build up to the vote was taking place on the sidelines as Sepp Blatter through his surrogate, Jeroen Valcke expressed concern at the deterioriating conditions in Zimbabwe which could impact preparations for the 2010 World Cup. Blatter had previously reassured Danny Jordaan that only a natural catastrophe would be cause for the World Cup to be removed elsewhere but in a twist he also mentioned that there was a Plan B with three countries that could be counted on to host the Cup within a year. In his meeting with Jordaan, Valcke had this to say:
'It would have been nice for South Africa, with all the other challenges they are facing, not to have the problem of Zimbabwe on top of it all. We add our voice to concerns and we fully support what is being done by all international organisations,' Valcke said.
Valcke's statement can't be read as anything more than disappointment at Thabo Mbeki's quiet diplomacy which most Western observers reject as tacit support and ineffectual in changing Mugabe's behaviour. They are now rapidly advocating more interventionist tactics, like sanctions and military force.
It is clear that FIFA favours more pro-active tactics for solving the Zimbabwe problem. Even Danny Jordaan has voiced his frustration at Mbeki's go slow approach. Some observers conjecture that Mugabe is on his way out as Mbeki's powers wane and Jacob Zuma asserts control. SA's powerful trade unions are vehemently against Mugabe and a few months ago, the dock workers refused to unload a Chinese cargo ship carrying arms destined for Zimbabwe.
Sepp Blatter with the backing of Western Europe (the countries that fill FIFA's coffers with billions in TV and ad revenues) could use the World Cup as a carrot to force Mbeki to abandon Mugabe and force him off the stage, ultimately proving more effective than all the protests, sanctions, and threatened use of military intervention. A huge breach in SA's sovereignty but surely a small price to pay to keep the World Cup.
And how could he do this? FIFA, under Sepp Blatter is now a powerful potentate with many more member countries than the UN and which in the past, has had its way with Africa.
It employs thin skinned retaliatory tactics when dealing with African delegates or resorts to heavy handed suspensions of countries from international competitions for perceived political interference in their national associations. Even FIFA's support of country over club competitions is a capricious artifice when it comes to African players.
So who suspends FIFA for political interference? No one dare.
Lord, can we wrap Hleb's vocal cords around his neck? For someone who disdained London's decibel levels, Hleb is creating his own noise pollution. He better worry about himself. If he performs like he did at Arsenal, Pep Guardiola might ship him out faster than he could say surplus.
Al-Hilal of Sudan snatched a 3-2 win over Enyimba of Nigeria this weekend in a dramatic start to the group phase of the 2008 African Champions League.The winner in the 3 -2 game came in the dying minutes of the game.Details ...
John Graham Mellor aka Joe Strummer of Clash fame was a Chelsea fan but that was when it was a club for the working class. His songs railing against fascism, racism and menial jobs resonated with millions in Thatcherite Britain. And his dictum of affordable music for fans almost bankrupted the group. It is clear that Roman Abramovich never took any inspiration from The Clash. Strummer's polemic was aimed at people like him.
So it is a valid question as to whether he would have remained a Chelsea fan in the Abramovich era. We will never know because he died in 2002 before Abramovich took over the club. But I am sure he would have expressed his dismay by penning a not too complimentary song about the oligarch in his inimitable style.
Here is Career Opportunities
They offered me the office, offered me the shop
They said I better take anything they got
Do you wanna make tea at the BBC?
Do you wanna be, do really wanna be a cop?
Career opportunities are the ones that never knock
Every job they offer you is to keep out the dock
Career opportunities, the ones that never knock
I hate the army and I hate the RAF
I don’t wanna go fighting in the tropical heat
I hate the civil service rules
And I won’t open letter bombs for you
Career opportunities are the ones that never knock
Every job they offer you is to keep out the dock
Career opportunities, the ones that never knock
I dont understand!
They’re gonna have to introduce conscription
They’re gonna have to take away my prescription
If they wanna get me making toys
If they wanna get me, well, I got not choice
Career opportunities are the ones that never knock
Every job they offer you is to keep out the dock
Career opportunities, the ones that never knock
Ain’t a-never gonna knock
Quick which one? Or both?
As per Chelsea, two days ago it was Robinho that was supposed to alight on Stamford Bridge on a bid of £40m. Today it is Kaka for double the price. How about importing the whole Brazilian and Portugese team and rendering the Premiership moot? Having Big Phil makes these pipe dreams possible.
But first. What happened to the cost cutting Roman Abramovich? The one that was feted for his 2007 freebies, Claudio Pizzarro, Steve Sidwell and Tal Ben Haim and like the Grinch, stole Mourinho's X'mas. When that happened there was a glimmer that maybe Chelsea wasn't into buying a title. Well, this year Mr Moneybags reverted to type and has already blown 50m on Anelka, Jose Bosingwa, Deco, Branislav Ivanovic, and Franco Di Santo. With Scolari as the gaffer, Abramovich has re-discovered his giddy schoolgirl days which went missing in the monochromatic Avram Grant era which got him bupkis. In this courtship dance with Scolari everything feels pretty, oh so pretty!
Big Phil Scolari knows that there is a downside to doing business with owners like Abramovich where every investment has a depreciative value. This is his moment to be shrill and demanding because he must have observed Rainieri and especially Mourinho wane in power as the years went by. He benefits from a straight line between a deep pocketed owner and a manager at the present moment with his transfer demands.
Jose Bosingwa and Deco's arrival have enhanced Scolari's status and further emboldened him. Public calls to bring on caliber players like Kaka and Robinho puts the onus on the Chelsea owner because a season from now Scolari might have difficulties buying a ball of string.
Arsenal just came out with a list of best 50 players in club history voted by fans.
Thierry "Titi' Henry , presently employed by Barca, is the best player followed by two retirees, Dennis Bergkamp and Tony Adams.
In the top 50 list there is not one single current Arsenal player. The list is an unsettling patchwork of ex- Arsenal players who are presently playing for other clubs and a horde of retired players whose names crop up in soccer history forums. In the ex-Arsenal category, apart from Henry, there is Freddie Ljungberg, Sol Campbell, Kanu, Patrick Vieira, Nicolas Anelka, Sylvain Wiltord, and Ashley Cole. Their exposure add up to 55 years which is more than the present squad's entire club career.
As with any list of such a sort, we can debate who deserved to be included or excluded but given that such lists usually favour more contemporary players this speaks more to the signifying trends of transience, youth, and lack of silverware at Arsenal. Most impact players are spending less time preferring to move on as their value goes up. Or as signalled clearly by the gaffer, this revolving door policy is being encouraged to enhance the club's reputation as one of the finest incubator of youthful talent purely for monetary gain. It has also been a number of years since any meaningful silverware was won which usually provides a ready springboard to a top 50 list. Fabregas may be on the cusp of the finest Arsenal players list but if the club had won the Premiership or CL, he would have undoubtedly been there a few seasons ahead of schedule.
Contrast this with Man Utd's list of top 50 out in 2006 which includes six presently serving players. Ryan Giggs, Rio Ferdinand, Paul Scholes, Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, and Gary Neville. 62 years of experience between these six players and a number of trophies to show for.
Liverpool's 100 players that shook the Kop lists Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher, John Arne Riise, Sami Hyppia, Steve Finnan, and Xabi Alonso in the first 50 who presently perform first squad duty. All these players were mainstays in Liverpool's successful 2005 CL appearance. Chelsea does not have a top 50 list but if one came out tomorrow John Terry, Didier Drogba, Petr Cech, Ricardo Carvalho, Frank Lampard, Claude Makelele, Joe Cole, and Michael Essien would deservedly find a place. These players are proven impact players in Chelsea's recent successes in the Premiership as well as its first CL final appearance.
A reflective moment for all Gunner fans as Gilberto, our stout hearted defensive specialist departs for Panathinaikos. He spend many seasons shielding Arsenal from quick counterattacking teams while providing invaluable goals through set pieces.
His calm leadership during Thierry Henry's injury absence in the early half of 2007 steadied the ship and his ten goals scored through a bunch of penalties and headers kept Arsenal ticking. Many remember this as his finest season which came on the heels of very strong rumours that he was to leave for Juventus that winter.
Just when it appeared that Gilberto was on track to finish his career in Arsenal a few crucial developments took place at the beginning of the 2007-2008 season. Wenger brought in William Gallas and made him captain and Mathieu Flamini's form landed him the starting spot behind Fabregas. Gilberto was relegated to the bench.
He was not happy about these developments but rather than whining about it and demanding a transfer he decided to fight for his spot. Even as his minutes dwindled and his frustration mounted he still gave his best as a substitute. As Arsenal's chances nosedived in the 2008 half, Gilberto came up with some strong starting performances in April. In retrospect, Gallas captaincy was undermined by his petulant outbursts and combativeness on the field. It was not a wise choice by Wenger.
With Flamini leaving for Milan, it would appear that Gilberto's services would be required to fill the gap. Wenger also indicated that he would be loth to see Gilberto go. However Wenger in a tactical move is developing new transfer Aaron Ramsey into a defensive specialist playing behind Fabregas which would mean reduced minutes for Gilberto once again.
Gilberto will be remembered for a number of highlights in his Arsenal career including scoring the fastest goal in UEFA history against PSV Eindhoven and the first ever goal for the club in their new home, the Emirates Stadium.
From a larger perspective, Gilberto's departure means that Arsenal and the Premiership lose one of the few players who were not defined by their mercenary interests or jarring histrionics but by unselfish devotion to club. A fine player and an equally fine human being. Gilberto was also deeply involved in fighting for the homeless. We shall miss him. Best of luck, Berto.
Chris Harris, reporter for Arsenal.com pays tribute >>
Great free kicks huh? All the because the wall stayed put.Not possible if the wall had crept closer before the ball was kicked and the ref didn't object.
A solution to this moving wall problem been found in Argentina.
Referees will pace the regulatory 9.15 metres between the ball and the nearest defender and then spray a vanishing white line on the pitch to mark the correct position of the wall.Any bit of the wall crossing the line before the shot will be penalised.
The vanishing line then vanishes from the pitch within a minute.More here..
The japanese are having a great laugh at all this.They already figured out how to put the defenders on a line.Take a look at their technique here...
The Spanish defence of their Under-19 Championship looks a dim prospect as they crashed to their second successive defeat - this time to Hungary.
Meanwhile the arch rivals continued to impress beating Bulgaria by an impressive 3 goals to none.They have gone through to the semis.Report here and video here.
The under 19 version.Defending Champs Spain started their title defence with a loss to arch rivals Germany.Richard Sukuta-Pasu and Omer Toprak scored in each half for the Germans, while Jordi Alba pulled one back midway through the second half for Spain.
Chase Michael Hilgenbrinck McDonald is an American soccer defender who plays for the New England Revolution of MLS.Hilgenbrinck signed with Huachipato of Chile's top division, but was loaned out to lower division club Deportes Naval. He eventually moved on to second-division club Ñublense and helped them to achieve promotion to Chile's top flight.The youtube video is of an interview with him before he went to Chile I guess.Why this sudden interest in Chase Michael Hilgenbrinck ? He's leaving it all behind and joining the priesthood - more luck to him.God knows we need more priests who can play football [ er soccer]
This weekend we saw Sepp Blatter clutch the Emancipation Proclamation to his breast as he impassionately spoke about the need to free slaves. He dispatched Ramon Calderon who swept through Manchester and set the slaves in United free.
Chief amongst them was Cristiano Ronaldo who living on a paltry £120,000 a week had suffered the horrors of once passing through council houses. Ronaldo would have kissed the earth but he was wearing an ankle cast having been beaten severly by his slave master, Sir Alex Ferguson with a sealed contract.
The nightmare for Ronaldo began when he approached Sir Alex with "Please Sir, can I have some more?" As Sir Alex looked at him disbelievingly, Ronaldo fell to the ground, writhing and moaning, pawing his gonads. A man wearing shorts and a whistle ran out of nowhere and showed Ronaldo a yellow card as a faint smell of porridge wafted through the air.
Sepp Blatter, a portly but kindly man had seen enough. Holy Schnitzles! There is too much inequity in the world. That is why he had filched every vote through bribes and scams. Slaves finish last. It was time for not just Ronaldo but Adebayor, Hleb, and Lampard, good men all to get their 40 yachts and a country. But this would never happen under their present slave masters. If pigs could fly, David Coverdale would be Ian Gillan or Snoop Doggy Dogg.
We have to feel for these schlubs. Hleb lives a miserable life quarantined in Hempstead's claustrophobic silence and stomach turning leafy foliage. Look up chaos. It's west of Vietnam. Lampard's visit to Abramovich's yacht unhappily remindshim of life in Darfur. Ronaldo's slave wages only allows for a £835,000 Bugatti Veyron but because of his grinding poverty he never will get to see an asteroid. That is left to Sergei Brin who can afford to spend £3m on a space flight. Brin is the co-founder of Google which many slaves use to find the address of Ramon Calderon. Surreptitiously.
But here is Sepp Blatter aka Abe Lincoln clear as a bell "I think there's too much modern slavery in transferring players or buying players here and there. If a player wants to leave, let him leave." Immortalized, July 10th, 2008. Wunderbar.
This Euro had England's pundits a twitter with the perceived lack of quality players in their national squad. Who could blame them? Spain, perennial underachievers, finally broke the hex leaving England in dire straits as the only big country with a big fat doughnut hole in recent accomplishments.
Arshavin, Villa, Xavi, Iniesta, Senna, Sneijder, Nihat, Altintop, Podolski, Srna, and many others make Gerrard and company look pedestrian. Even players like Cesc Fabregas suffered by association playing second fiddle to Xavi as Luis Aragones reposed faith in the Liga players.
But as per the affirmative action school of thought, it is the influx of overseas players who are responsible for the death knell of English soccer. With top flight managers going for the foreign brand, domestic talent is being squeezed out, bottoming out in the lower divisions. The same thinking permeates in youth academies as overseas talent is considered more attractive in a club's success. The affirmative action school is proactive in imposing limits on foreign representation in the English clubs, especially the Premiership.
Playing for the most globalized league has proven beneficial for a number of players as seen in this Euro or the last World Cup, in terms of representation. In contrast, this cross pollination is virtually absent when it comes to the English squad. The present roster shows a high degree of insularity. Only David Beckham, Owen Hargreaves and Jonathan Woodgate (in a forgettable cameo) have experience playing for an overseas league. From the lack of transfer talk involving English players, save a perennial Frank Lampard move, clearly rival leagues are not exactly enchanted with its talent. But even the handful players who have made a jump have had less than enjoyable experiences.
The lack of positive foreign experiences plus the Premiership's klieg lights have created a risk averse environment in the current lot of players.
This is in direct contrast to the relatively anonymous years of a nascent Premiership which saw a number of English players hungry for recognition going overseas to ply their trade in the bigger leagues.
Paul Ince, Paul Gascoigne, Steve McManaman, and David Platt, the nucleus of England's 1996 Euro team provided them their last substantial lift, all benefited from their Serie and La Liga experience. McManaman and Ince garnered considerable overseas success. Even earlier, Chris Waddle and Gary Lineker translated productive seasons at OM and Barca into stellar performances in England's 1990 World Cup campaign, another banner year as they made the semi-finals.
It is clear that England gains when their players have made the most of their foreign experience. An attribute which should be explored more rigorously by the FA rather settling on the more expedient exercise of blaming overseas players for the predicament of the English game.
Hleb's thumb down to London life does not seem to have discouraged Samir Nasri who arrives in the Emirates. He is all gung ho about playing for Arsenal which he said played the best soccer in Europe. Well, we concur and add that he has already gotten off to a good start.
Nasri cautions against comparing him to Zidane. He has not headbutted anyone yet, so such convenient comparisons should be put on hold. He should not do so but if he decides to try, we suggest the twilight of his career and against Man U, a slave club located in NW England.
Jokes aside. Nasri brings some impressive stats which bear well. He is ahead of the Arsenal midfield in shooting accuracy and crosses completed; level in pass completion. He is behind the curve in dribbling skills but that might be because of Hleb's exceptionality in that department.
However all this is for nought if it does not help Arsenal score and score consistently. Nasri will not be a triggerman. For that to happen we need an out and out scorer, someone with a direct connection between the limbic brain and the neuromuscular junctions of the leg muscles.
Aliaksandr Hleb's departure seems imminent. Well, mentally at least. The man has been complaining for months of living in Oliver Twist's London on thin gruel and fear. Dodging defenders on the field is exhausting enough but he has to do this every day on the chaotic streets of Hempstead with its millions of artful dodgers. Give the poor sod a break. Its not the money, its his mind that might go to pieces.
Here in commiseration for Hleb is Bob Marley's classic >>
The victorious French 1998 team played a World XI side in a nostalgic friendly to remember the 10th anniversary of the country's 1998 World Cup triumph..Emilio Butragueno gave the World XI the lead but Zidane equalled for France.Pedro Pauleta made it 2-1 to the world team and Ludovic Giuly equalised pulled one back for France again.
Croatia's Davor Suker and Bernard Diomede both scored in the last minute to see the game to a 3-3 finish.The World Cup trophy arrived for the game by helicopter.The occassion was overshadowed by the death of a 10 year old fan who was killed in a road accident on his way to the ground.RIP.
Some of the biggest names in football have joined a campaign to raise funds for charity ahead of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa - Didier Drogba, Steven Gerrard, Samuel Eto'o Gennaro Gattuso,Michael Ballack to name a few.India's Baichung Bhutia also rubbed shoulders with all the big stars.
The first game last night was between World Teams One and Two.
World Team Two, skippered by Ballack, defeated Seedorf's World Team One 9-6.
Fans are being asked to donate money every time their team scores to fund education and development in Africa - to fulfil Nelson Mandela's dream of "Education for all -- all for education".Check out the Goal4Africa website here..
The campaign hopes to raise more than $90m (£45m) by 2010.The video is of the opening ceremony in Munich.
Ask Diego Maradona and he will spit in Sepp Blatter's eye when he so self servingly talks about players living in modern slavery. It is as laughable as Phil Gramm's dismissal of the dismal US economy as a 'mental recession'.
In Blatter's case, it is a total derailment of reality. Where was this champion of players rights when Maradona along with hundreds of other players were trying to establish the ground rules against exploitation?
Maradona got under the skin of Sepp Blatter with his demands for labour rights for players. Blatter, a suit, dismissed Maradona by saying "The last star from Argentina was Di Stefano."
Blatter on the same day he created a stir by siding with Ronaldo, a stance that the Man U star gratefully internalized by simply stating he was a slave, also reverted to type by undermining South Africa's preparations for the World Cup. Post apartheid SA cannot catch a break whereas a spoilt, petulant superstar who gets paid millions of pounds is supposedly a victim of an inherently unjust system. But it raises the question, who is the slave here? Isn't Blatter a creature of corporations and national federations?
Blatter's statement expressing doubts on SA's preparation came two days before a vote at the UNSC on imposing sanctions against Robert Mugabe's regime as Zimbabwe spirals into violence and anarchy. His surrogate also used the opportunity to express concern over the deteriorating conditions in Zimbabwe. It is clear that Blatter and FIFA are leveraging the unrest in a neighbouring country to create conditions in addition to national catastrophes that would enable them to move the World Cup to a different country. In short, Blatter threw red meat at European countries, especially Germany and England as well as Australia who in the past have stated their interest in hosting the World Cup should SA fail.
It is not a coincidence that the countries pointing fingers to tardiness in stadium construction and requisite infrastructure are also the ones most displeased with SA's stance towards Mugabe. They are also Blatter's biggest voting bloc essential to his become president. Greasing the palms of powerful office holders with bribes and ticket scams in exchange for their votes has long been a Sepp Blatter speciality.
Brad Guzan becomes the latest addition to the most enduring US export to the Premiership. The Chivas USA goalie joins Martin O' Neill's squad subject to Home Office approval on a £2m transfer.
Guzan bolsters a squad short of experienced goalies with Scott Carson returning to Liverpool and Thomas Sorensen released. Guzan should challenge Stuart Taylor who has been with Villa three season but has seen limited opportunities. With his Chivas USA form behind him he should get a chance to prove himself in the Premiership very early.
Times Online poll - Who is the greatest Manchester United player of all time?
Choose from - Bobby Charlton,Denis Law,George Best,Duncan Edwards,Bryan Robson,Roy Keane,Ryan Giggs,Paul Scholes,Eric Cantona and Cristiano Ronaldo.
I was under the impression that the Liverpool Legends were the Beatles.However things have changed apparently.It's a football team and they have lost their first match in a 3 game Scandinavian tour.
Had enough of Blatter ? Sign the online petition here..
Meanwhile back at his lair the Blatter has revealed details on his Plan B regarding where to hold the 2010 World Cup should his South African venture blow up in his face.Speaking with considerable difficulty due to having both feet in his mouth he said to Sky News....
"I have spoken to three possible, not only possible, but three associations and countries that would be able to stage the World Cup in one year's time," . "They need one year (to prepare)."
Ronaldinho seen here in his protest outfit- which is either a very long pair of short pants or a very short pair of long pants.He says he's going to go the Olympics whether his club permits it or not.
Exact words ..."I feel very positive and I am not thinking about anything that is not good.I am imagining myself at the Games doing good, playing well and bringing back the gold medal.I am going to give special attention to my training and preparation.I have great confidence that I will go the Olympics in good shape and that is a great motivation to train. I have not played for a long time and I really do miss it.That is why I want to work hard and be ready and I am not thinking about if someone is going to stop me or try and block me from going to Beijing."
Transfer season is kind of boring with not much in the way of action.One can hardly blame a ref in Belarus if he tried to enliven the monotony by taking a swig or two from a hipflask hidden between his red and yellow cards.The players only realised something was amiss towards the end of the game when the ref started doing all his refereeing from the centre circle.He swayed with every passing breeze and blew the whistle every now and then to encourage the players to keep playing - pointing in all directions while he did so.He had to be helped off the field eventually.A more accurate rendition of the facts can be found here...
That is what Sir Alex must be thinking. Some months ago, Sepp Blatter and Sir Alex were whooping it up coming up with proposals limiting foreign player representation that would put the kebosh on clubs like Arsenal and Liverpool. Right down chummy, sharing photo ops making goo goo eyes while crooning into the mic.
Well those moments were ... just moments. Blatter decides that Cristiano Ronaldo is living in 'modern slavery.'
You could almost feel the blood drain from Sir Alex's face.
Yes, Man U operates a modern day chain gang. On hot days, 11 men emerge from their locker room, shuffle onto a field, their legs inextricably bound by a bag of wind, as an overseer barks out orders, and when the day is done, burst into anthemic songs of exploitation and bad food, which are now sung by Sam Cooke.
Ronaldo could not have scripted this better. What are the odds his agent is nodding his head sagely and replacing loyalty with modern slavery in his letter to Man U?
David Trézéguét's 20 goals last season for Juventus in Serie A were not good enough for Domenech.He was not included France's losing Euro team .So now "The awful Euros and the (re)confirmation of the (same)coach " have led Trezegol to call it quits at the tender age of 31.
He's also gone on record saying that besides there being too much of Domenech there was also too much of politics and too less of football in France.
If this is indeed right the new phenomenon sweeping through Europe augurs poorly for Dunga and his current win at all costs brand of soccer. It makes him look like a Gordon Gekko taking over what was once beautiful and meaningful and rendering it soulless and sanitized.
When will the CFB realize that Brazilian soccer has been on a slow decline ever since the Tele Santana era ended over two decades ago?
This is sad because I have the greatest respect for both Gareth Barry and Martin O' Neill. Two of the fiercest and most uncompromising competitors who when on the same page pushed Villa to the next level. You could relive a match watching O' Neill on the sidelines while on the field Barry impressed with his industry. He was Mr. Versatile. He took over Wilfred Bouma's left back position when the Dutchman was injured and did a yeoman job. But recent events have driven a wedge between them.
Barry upset O'Neill by intimating the Villa boss was more interested in being a television pundit for the Euro 2008 finals than speaking to him over his future.
He said: "It's seven weeks now since the season finished but while the gaffer found time to be a pundit for the BCC at Euro 2008, he hasn't found time to speak to me.
It is especially bitter because Barry served 10 years at Villa and follows another veteran, Olof Mellberg, who departed with O'Neill's praises ringing in his ears.
I wish him luck at Liverpool which is where he appears to be heading if Villa can get their price right.
Arsenal which is now in the business of leveraging its players reportedly offers Adebayor to Milan who are looking to replacing their aging fleet with some sleek new additions. His first choice remains Barca.
Something tells me that these stories will become de rigeur every season following Wenger's statement.
It's called What Wayne Knows and its been around for awhile......about a couple of months...
That's a new nickname doing the rounds of a fellow who has a list of nicknames which is almost as long as himself - Crouchie,RoboCrouch,Crouchinho,Mr. Roboto,Pantera Rosa,El Esparagus and Coathanger.Liverpool fans had a chant for him the early days"He's big, he's red, his feet stick out the bed, Peter Crouch, Peter Crouch."
Maybe Crouch will do his famous Robot dance for Portsmouth though he's apparently gone on record saying that he would never use the Robot dance again until he scores in the UEFA Champions League Final.
Another season of unsettling news out of the Emirates. Flamini gone to Inter, Ade and Hleb's future looking murky; Rosicky and Eduardo with major injury concerns. In short our attack is stretched very, very thin and needs an infusion in double quick time in order to remain competitive.
It appears that we are linked to either Andrei Arshavin or Klaas Jan Huntelaar, even maybe both for a reported combined price tag of £38m.
But this is to be seen in context of Wenger's bizarre statement: “The strategy of the club is to sell every year and to buy less expensive players.”
Wenger says that this will be the strategy for the next 17 years to pay off the debt on the stadium. This cost cutting strategy will generate a £24m surplus annually. Yes, Arsenal is officially in the business of leveraging players.
In effect too, buying players now is contingent on maintaining the £24m margin. Which means that Arshavin and Huntelaar don't come under the category of 'less expensive players' . And I agree with Arseblog, Wenger's pronouncement makes no sense if Arsenal wants to retain a bargaining advantage. In fact, with this there will be very few "less expensive players" left on the market with clubs cognizant of Wenger's plan. It all seems quite fishy.
Not as far fetched as it appears. Rafael Nadal is a soccer freak whose friend is Iker Casillas, Spain and Real Madrid goalie. The two have a common purpose in sport, how best to keep the ball out of the net.
Update: Federer and Nadal, tied at two sets apiece. This is turning into a classic.
Update 2: Nadal wins and he can finally break open that champagne that he has kept on ice since last weekend. Another great day for Spain. The last Spaniard to win Wimbledon was Manuel Santana in 1966.
Marcos Senna is listed as a midfielder but his usefulness lies in his being a utility player capable of coming forward on attack, falling back to defend, and controlling midfield. He is strong in the air, very capable with free kicks, burns up the outside turf to slice in a cross, quick and decisive in his tackling, and shows some dribbling chops too, turning and twisting his way through defenders.
A time motion study (Bloomfield, et. al, 2007) analyzing purposeful movements of players playing specific positions show clear demarcations with midfielders covering more ground, defenders spending more time running backwards and laterally,and strikers turning more. Midfielders also play more short passes as defenders go for the long ball. They also spend significantly more time in skills such as tackling as compared to other positions. Strikers and defenders spend more time in high intensity physical contact as they use their body strength to advantage to head or break or make tackles.
A player like Senna probably washes out the significant differences between positions, successfully melding midfielding capabilities with aspects of defending and striking skills to create a physical and protean presence on the field.
I always think that international competitions like Euro or the World Cup provide much needed correctives.
Fernando Torres muscled his way past Philip Lahm in one of the more indelible images of Euro 2008 to provide Spain's winner. The Liverpool striker was one of the heroes in his country's win against Germany. However his Premiership compatriots Cesc Fabregas and Michael Ballack had a more muted final as the players from the Bundesliga and La Liga provided the most highlights. The final showed Iniesta, Xavi, Senna, Silva, Ramos and Marchena at their sparkling best as they ran over Germany who relied once again on Podolski and Schweinsteiger to spare the blushes.
When you compare the big four contribution to national squads, La Liga and Serie contributed 38 apiece and the Bundesliga topped out with 59 players with the largest numbers going to their own teams. The English league even without England's participation provided 47 players, far ahead of La Liga and Serie. Squads with large representations included Portugal and Netherlands, who despite their bright start could not take their game to the next level. This in some aspects is a reprisal of the 2006 World Cup where the English league found its influence on the wane as the tournament went deeper despite the FA touting publicly the maximum number of players to the national squads.
One wonders why this is so? The English League is overwhelmingly the largest in terms of viewership and revenues. With many of its clubs under the control of deep pocketed ownerships, it doles out the biggest chunk of change for the best talent and the largest overseas contingent of players is evidence of where the sport has shifted. Their clubs took three semifinal spots in the CL cup this year.
But all this is for nought because once again as demonstrated in the Euro it was the other leagues that provided the impact players when national pride was at stake.
One of the biggest differences between the English league and other leagues is the intensity of scheduling and the amount of recovery time it gives its players. The English league with its packed domestic fixtures and international obligations for revenue reasons does not give a winter break to its players, a month which finds other leagues enjoying a breather and players recuperating from niggling injuries. This is especially crucial in years when international competitions take center stage with little lag from the end of the league season. For elite Premiership clubs playing this year's CL, recovery gets even more abbreviated. Players from Man U and Chelsea hyperventilating from the grueling CL final literally flew into Klagenfurt or Geneva from Luzhniki Stadium the next day to start their Euro campaign. Fatigue is cumulative and fresher legs do count for a lot more.
The other reason is more controversial and insidous. The English League's combative attitude frequently pushes players to choose club over country. Jose Mourinho was so incensed by Michael Ballack's ankle surgery peformed by German doctors that he was seriously considering shipping Ballack off. Jogi Low had to eat humble pie. Everton's David Moyes threw a fit when he said that witch doctors were trying to force Tim Cahill's recovery for Australia's World Cup 2006 opener against Japan. Sir Alex considered a lawsuit against the FA if Rooney came back as damaged goods from the World Cup. Obviously such measures are protective in nature and serve the club's self interest but they also sub-consciously create conditions where players have to choose between their bread and butter and abstractions such as national pride. Doubts like these can lead to fluctuations in motivation and performance as can levels of fitness and fatigue.
Factors such as these are partly responsible for England's failure on the international level apart from a whole horde of tactical shortcomings and perceived lack of talent. But all these factors put together also affect English League overseas players when they play for their national squads.
Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon and Manchester United chief executive David Gill will be holding talks in Switzerland about the Cristiano Ronaldo problem.If the talks break down they are going to solve things using plan B - shown above.
A collection of transfer rumours and facts that are doing the rounds -Harry Kewell makes move to Galatasaray,Paul Robinson maybe going to West Bromwich Albion,Italian defender Andrea Dossena goes to Liverpool,Portsmouth are going to take Peter Crouch for £10m,22-year-old James Milner from Newcastle is going to Aston Villa,Richard Dunne will be staying on at Manchester City,Marvin Emnes signed up for Middlesbrough, Steven Taylor stays with Newcastle United,Atletico Madrid signed French international goalkeeper Gregory Coupet,Ronaldinho won't be sold at a discount,Messi's going to Serie A,most of the Chelsea team is heading off to Inter Milan,Cristiano Ronaldo is going to Real Madrid,no he's not,yes he is,no,yes,no,yes,sez who..etc.In the middle of all this chaos here's one person who's not going anywhere.David Beckham - scoring his fifth goal of the season for the Galaxy in a game they lost to New England Revolution by 2 goals to 1
" Barcelona have made it clear that their priority this summer is signing a striker with physical presence, after sanctioning the departure of Samuel Eto'o."
I never thought about Adebayor as a physical presence. Yes, he is tall and he does play with his back to goal but an adjective such as physical is an inaccurate descriptor. He is no Viduka or Drogba. He does not bull his way through or possess a rasping shot that catches a goalie out of position. In fact, there is a languid sort of quality which is both an advantage and a disadvantage. His long legs add a deceptive dimension to his less than blazing speed, enabling him to direct in a memorable goal after a nifty Fabregas pass against Man Utd a couple of seasons ago.
Ade's style is indirect and more finesse. When he is sharp, he can kill defenses with well timed deflections or re-directions through opportunities created by Arsenal's busy midfield. It resulted in a 30 goal breakthrough season. He was more productive than Ronaldo who had far more chances. However against more aggressive defense, Ade frequently shows a heavy first touch which results in a number of balls taken away. At a crucial time last season, Ade's output deserted him. Arsenal could not buy a win as their reliance on moving through the middle rendered them predictable and stacked up defences successfully isolated Ade. As demonstrated many times over, Ade's success is contingent on Arsenal's midfield ascendancy.
Thierry Henry's transfer had less impact than expected. With Deco moving to Chelsea, good luck to Barca if they believe Ade can provide the Terminator role.
A nice write up of a famous World Cup game between America and Brazil way way way back in 1994 - on Independence Day.Brazil went down to 10 men in the 43rd minute.Their star Leonardo got a red card.The second half started with the scores reading 0 - 0 and the clock ticked on till the game was 71 minutes old.Then........[If you want to know what happened next check here...]
Wesley Sneijder's goal against France has been officially declared the best goal of this EC.He got 40% of the votes Nihat's goal against the Czech Republic came second with 14% and Arshavin’s goal against Sweden came third with 12%.All this is on the UEFA website here...
Spain have climbed to the top of the FIFA ranking for the first time ever.The latest rankings are ..
8. Czech Republic
An Indian under 12 team has been included among 40 nations playing "Yakult Danone Nations Cup football tournament" - in which the other teams thankfully are also made up of kids of the same age.12 teams of kids are gathering at the Ambedkar Stadium in New Delhi on July 11 and 12 to fight for a place among those selected.
The winner of the national leg will not only play in the world finals in Paris, but also get a dream chance of meeting Zinedine Zidane.
And who knows we might discover an "El Nino" of our own.......
Here's Fernando Torres doing what he does best - scoring goals.So what makes the video any different from so many others videos of Torres ? The fact that he is only 12 years old here.This vintage video shows a game between the Atletico Madrid and AC Milan youth teams in 1996.Torres demonstrates the foundations of the skills that took Spain to the summit in 2008.(The ref should have given him a red card for that foul..! )
If South Africa ultimately prove unable to stage the World Cup 2010 Blatter is not worried.He has another plan - ingeniously code named "Plan B" stashed in a drawer somewhere.So there is absolutely no need to panic.
The fabled new Europass ball was perhaps much ado about nothing.77 goals were scored in the tournament.This was exactly the same as the number of goals scored in Euro 2004 The all time record of 85 goals was scored in the euro 2000 championships.So Adidas' tall claims that the ball was the most incredible piece of technical wizardry since Harry Potter's broom were exactly that - tall claims. Lehmann's fears that the ball would float like a butterfly and sting like a bee proved pretty unfounded.In fact the ball didn't seem to move around much.Only 2 goals came off free kicks and in both cases the wicked swerve predicted by Adidas and anticipated by Lehmann did not occur.Ballack scored one - and his free kick powered its way into the goal through a gap in the wall.There was a swerve in the second one from the France Italy game. But that swerve came from a deflection off poor Thierry Henry's farewell boot.
However for the next PL season Nike are going to succeed where Adidas failed.They too have invented a new football - This one is designed to take it to the next level - constructed with engineered hexagons and pentagons, with a 360-degree sweet-spot. It's advanced technology ensures that all the pieces of the ball are stitched evenly together to make an as-close-to-perfect sphere as possible.It is a ball that is going to push the boundaries for consistency, accuracy and visibility.On top all that it also has red stripe on it to help players make split second judgements The Star Trek fans will say " It's a ball that is going to boldly go where no ball has gone before"...............!
Lehmann is maintaining a dignified silence on this one - so far.!